Today, Autumn wrote about The Conundrum of Body Hair. I’m chiming in.
I recently went about three months without shaving my underarms, two and a half months without shaving my legs. From October through the New Year, I grew increasingly fuzzy. The results looked something like this:
I say “something like this” because me and my camera take worthless photographs.
Various Disjointed Thoughts:
- Can you believe how little body hair I have? Three months of unchecked hair hardly looked ‘worse’ than one month’s growth, and some women could grow that much in a week. How many of us think we’re six times hairier than we are, but never find out what we’re really dealing with? I had a similar revelation with my Diva Cup; after years of using soooo many tampons every month, I was astounded to learn that my entire period consisted of about one ounce of blood, maybe an ounce and a half. (Now I have a copper IUD, and can lose more than half an ounce per day. Story for another time.)
- Beauty privilege is a slippery and subjective thing. But in our current culture, being naturally semi-hairless seems like a HUGE beauty privilege. This is not without drawbacks; the same genes that leave me semi-hairless decree that I will never have thick, luxurious hair. Also,while invisible forearm hair is considered a plus, having invisible eyelashes can feel like a massive ‘beauty disadvantage.’
- The first week or two without shaving will be hardest, because stubble feels nasty. Once your body hair is soft and not prickly, it seems much less worrisome.
- During these months, I continued to wear tank tops and knee-length skirts, giving locals the chance to admire my fur. No one ever commented. I rarely felt self-conscious about my armpits, but did feel very strange sporting leg hair and high heels simultaneously.
- I dream of a world where visible body hair was not considered disgusting or careless, but just one more style choice— the way we no longer think twice about women wearing skirts OR trousers, or having short hair instead of long. Every time I grow out my body hair, it is with this conscious goal in mind.
- HOWEVER! People being what they are, I’m sure that even if all women had visible body hair, some body hair would be considered cooler or sexier than others, and companies would find news ways to capitalize on hair insecurities. Can you imagine full-body Latisse lotions? A return of the merkin?
- Personally, I’m biased in favor of dark, curly body hair. Why? Who knows?
- Even if having sparse body hair is a privilege of some kind, I think thicker body hair looks better; more deliberate, more like a ‘design element’ and less like an oversight.
- Speaking of privilege, I understand that being white and fairly thin make it easier for me to play around with cosmetic taboos than it might be for someone else. This was equally true of head-shaving.
- And speaking of shaved heads, my old electric clippers are great for trimming pubic and underarm hair. For me, those clippers have been a fantastic investment.
- I quit my Body Hair Laissez Faire ways while I was totally bald; I didn’t want my toe hair to be longer than my head hair. Vain, I know. Ha!
- Have you noticed that underarm hair seems more popular than leg hair? Am I imagining this? In my case, I’m more comfortable with armpit hair because 1) even the world’s foxiest armpit is nondescript, so what can a little hair hurt? and 2) I’m not thrilled with the shape or color of my legs; maintaining a smooth texture is the only control I can exert over ‘em. Also, legs have far more acreage than underarms, and may be more strongly associated with culturally mandated sexiness and acceptability.
- In case you’re wondering, Mr. Jaunty is not a real fan of body hair. I figure he’s only allowed to veto mine if I can veto his, so we both grow and shave whatever we like.
- Years ago, I dated a guy who loved women’s body hair. He always wanted me to let mine grow, and I could never bring myself to do it.
- So far, I cannot maintain long body hair for more than a few months, because I get bored and want a change. Same thing happened with head-shaving. Sure, I tell myself “from now on, I will remain bald!” or “from now on, I only want long hair!” or “I’m liberating myself from razors!” but I’m never right for long. My crush on variety and reinvention always trump matters of consistency or practicality.
When I shaved off all my body hair at the beginning of 2012, I was surprised by two things:
1) I actually missed my armpit hair and was disappointed by how boring armpits are. I’ve since regrown and re-shaved that hair several times.
2) I was truly shocked by how icky leg stubble feels. I’ve been shaving my legs for more than ten years, how did I forget the feeling of stubble in under three months?
There! More than you ever wanted to know about my hairiness. But I still want to know about you: male or female, have you ever taken up or abandoned shaving your body hair? Why? Are your body hair choices consistent, or are you a flip-flopper like me? What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without shaving?